Seen and 'herd' in Sweden

Study Abroad Fair Sept. 16 will connect students to unique programs

kelsey walks through the forest
Kelsey Frisk wanders through a forest during her semester abroad in Sweden. Photos courtesy of Kelsey Frisk.

UI senior Kelsey Frisk knew a fair amount about Swedish culture before stepping off the plane for her study abroad program at Uppsala University.

Throughout her childhood in Magnolia, Iowa, Frisk’s father—who is of Swedish descent—emphasized the importance of preserving the values, customs, and knowledge of centuries past, instilling in her a sense of curiosity to explore the country of her family’s heritage. Her interests in health, science, and the environment further guided her decision to study in Sweden for the spring 2014 semester.

Frisk, an interdepartmental studies major in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with an emphasis in global health, gained memories that will last a lifetime during her time in Scandinavia.

Kelsey Frisk sits on a reindeer
Frisk sits on a reindeer while waiting for its herder to come tag the calf’s ears.

She experienced the beautiful restlessness of midnight sun while camping south of the Arctic Circle; attended gasques—themed formal dinner parties for student groups at her university; and enjoyed many traditional Swedish fikas—coffee breaks shared with family or friends that include a baked sweet.

After a rewarding semester of study, Frisk’s next adventure began in Malå, Sweden, where she conducted research on reindeer-herding Sami people and their perceived quality of life.

She interviewed members of the Sami community during the tagging period, where she was able to see and experience firsthand the herding of reindeer and tagging of calves. The stories and conversations she shared with the herders and their families had a great impact on Frisk.“You can't grasp that feeling from a book or literary article; it is one you need to experience firsthand, and I feel very fortunate that I could,” she says.

Students can start planning their own international journey by visiting the annual Study Abroad Fair on Tuesday, Sept. 16, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the second floor of the University Capitol Centre. The event is organized by Study Abroad in UI International Programs.

Study Abroad advisors, returned students, and external program providers will be on hand to answer questions and provide information on the multitude of overseas opportunities for UI students. Fair attendees are encouraged to tweet using the hashtag #uiabroadfair.

“Study abroad is an opportunity for students to live outside their comfort zone and experience true academic and personal growth,” says Liz Wildenberg de Hernandez, associate director of UI Study Abroad. “The skills learned in navigating a new culture, city, university, academic system, and sometimes language help to prepare students for future careers and life after college.”

Frisk plans to apply for a Fulbright award next fall with future goals of pursuing a career in human rights, public or international health, or environmental policy.

She says her time in Sweden was enriching in many ways, giving her a greater sense of independence, new communication skills, an appreciation for diversity, and analytical skills to address problems from different perspectives.

“Along with personal growth, my interest in indigenous and all individuals' rights, cultural significance, and health have vastly increased. With my newly acquired knowledge of Sami culture, applying for a Fulbright will be an even more enriching experience,” she says.

For more information on Study Abroad, visit the International Programs website.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, contact Study Abroad in UI International Programs in advance at 319-335-0353.

 

Kelsey received the Stanley Award for International Research to support her research project abroad. Learn more about this award.

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